shameless rumormongering

Rumor Roundup: Mayor’s Spox Jumps to Kickstarter, Googlers Play Segway Polo and Gaga Has Instagram Worried

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Ridin’ nerdy Some people in tech want to get rid of the industry’s reputation as a festering geek pool, while others don’t give a toss if people think they’re dorks. To the left is a picture of some people playing Segway polo on the Google campus, tweeted by Google Ventures’ David Krane. You be the judge.

Peace out With the election right around the corner, it looks like the Bloomberg administration is starting to power down. Today, the Daily News reported that deputy press secretary Julie Wood–who runs the mayor’s Instagram, among other things, and is a familiar face from the mayor’s many, many visits to startup offices–is leaving for her next act. Read More

Off the Media

Exposing the Racket: A Simple Stunt Reveals How Blogs Will Print Anything for Pageviews

It doesn’t take Noam Chomsky to see that the state of media is bad.

But in 2011, I had the sense that most people didn’t fully grasp the absurd lows the system was spiraling toward. So I set out to illustrate it.

And in the process surprised even myself.

When I sold my first book of media criticism to Portfolio/Penguin, I decided to use the launch itself as an experiment. I even wrote some of the experiment into my book proposal and subsequent deal.

Read More

shameless rumormongering

Rumor Roundup: Betabeat Becomes a Bunch of Glassholes, Prince Harry Hails a Hailo and Zuck Celebrates a Bday

(Photo: Tumblr)

Glasshole Missed Connection Betabeat finally had the distinct pleasure of trying the dorky looking face computer we love to mock so much at a party last night at Meetup HQ. We (only slightly drunkenly) approached a tall white dude donning Google Glass and timidly asked if we might be able to try it on. When we slipped on the device (in slate!), the display was incredibly blurry–not due to our eyesight, but because Glass specifically calibrates to the wearer’s eye. It was hard as hell to see, but the voice commands worked almost seamlessly, impressive since we were at a loud party.

The device’s functionality is fairly limited: you can take a picture, record video and get directions to and from places. It also has the added benefit of making you look like a complete dork while somehow also attracting swaths of attractive ladies to get up real close to your face. Read More

shameless rumormongering

Rumor Roundup: International Defoundered Man of Mystery, Plus Alexis Ohanian Wrote a Book

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Front Page Printed Pages of the Internet Just before taking stage at SXSW to talk his crowdfunded Internet 2012 tour, Alexis Ohanian emailed out a link to his new book, Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed.

Since you asked, Mr. Ohanian, we dig the cover, but “without their permission,” sounds a little iffy in the context of Reddit’s Creepshot scandal, no? Read More

shameless rumormongering

Rumor Roundup: Eric Schmidt’s BlackBerry Problem, a Foursquare Stalker & Sheryl Sandberg’s Frenemy

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If your week was as hellish hectic as ours, you must be in need of a stiff drink. Pour yourself a cocktail and get comfy: here comes this week’s rumor roundup.

Step Away from the Crackberry! In case you missed all the Instagrams, Mayor Bloomberg performed some titillating acts of Startup Theatre on the stage at Gracie Mansion Tuesday night. The crème of tech society, including MakerBot’s Bre Pettis, General Assembly’s Adam Brimer, Yipit founder Vinny Vacanti, Google trends & insights editor Caroline McCarthy, Sailthru’s Aubrey Sabala, chief digital officer Rachel Sterne Haot and her husband, LiveStream founder Max Haot, gathered on the lawn for canapés and cocktails to celebrate NYC Connects 2012.

To enhance his usual Silicon Alley cheerleading, Mr. Bloomberg opted for props on the podium, like an array of Warby Parker sunglasses and a Seamless delivery guy, who shlepped takeout up on stage. The spotlight was enough to lure Seamless CEO Jonathan Zabusky out of Twitter hiding. Besides one of the guests complaining about a scripted “Hello world” joke that fell short, everyone seemed to eat up the promotional opportunities. Read More

Commenting Wars

Branching Out: How Josh Miller Went From Princeton Dropout to Alley Darling in Just Nine Months

Big day for Josh Miller. (joshm.co)

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Josh Miller, the precocious 21-year-old Princeton dropout behind Branch, one of tech’s most buzzed-about new startups, took The Observer on a tour of the Obvious Corporation, a growing operation helmed by the cofounders of Twitter that advises and invests in an elite set of fledgling tech companies, Branch among them.

The San Francisco office radiated industrial California coziness, with tall windows and exposed pipes, dark grey walls and a fridge overflowing with Vitamin Water. Mr. Miller, who is tall and insouciant, with the laid-back linguistic tenor of one who spent his childhood in Santa Monica, bustled about the office, seemingly unthreatened by the fact that he is both much younger and less experienced than the majority of Obvious employees.

“Check this out!” he called from a breezy conference room with a panoramic view of downtown San Francisco. He pointed to a wet bar fully stocked with top-shelf bottles. “You know, I’m just out of college, so sometimes I’m, like, afraid to drink any of this because it’s so expensive! It’s like, where’s the Franzia?” he joked, referring to the cheap boxed wine favored by destitute college students. Read More

Commenting Wars

Sound Familiar? Gawker’s New Commenting Threads are Called ‘Branches’

Mr. Denton (flickr.com/scriptingnews)

After a week of closed commenting sections, Gawker released its new commenting system today, and it’s a doozy. Nieman Lab has a great rundown of the changes, including a computer algorithm that sifts through the comments and looks for ones to feature, as well as “a new inbox [that] focuses attention on all replies to a user’s comments… the original commenter must explicitly approve a reply to allow it into the conversation.”

Nieman Lab reports that the proprietary system is officially called Powwow, but interestingly enough, the actual discussion threads themselves are called “branches.” Read More

Commenting Wars

Nick Denton Apparently Loves Branch

Mr. Denton (flickr.com/scriptingnews)

Gawker overlord Nick Denton’s commenting revolution is in full swing, with the first phase–revoking the illustrious “star” from each commenter, and temporarily disabling comments altogether–implemented last week. Mr. Denton has been very vocal about the fact that he wants to ditch the site’s old insidery cabal of snark-obsessed commenters in favor of more thoughtful, inclusive discussion. Read More

The Influencers

Dennis Crowley is Influential About Moms, and Other Klout Surprises [UPDATED]

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Are you big on the Internet? Klout, the online influence measurement system, helps you determine just that. “We measure your influence based on your ability to drive action in social networks,” explains the Klout page. But aside from providing you with an over-inflated sense of self-importance, Klout also mines your Twitter page for popular terms, and determines a list of topics you’re especially influential about. This reporter, for example, is influential about blogging and cats, which is pretty much dead on. Read More

shameless rumormongering

Rumors & Acquisitions: We Can’t Stop Turntabling

rumormonger

TURNTABLE.FM PARTY CRASHED! On Thursday, New Work City had the rockin’est Turntable.fm DJ-off and techie dance party north of the Mississippi, we’re told, despite a miscommunication in the Pepsi delivery. Turntable’s cutesy avatars were cut out and pasted on the wall behind the DJs, which included Shai Goldman, bringer of dance beats as well as Silicon Valley Bank sponsorship. “Had almost 200 people, got crashed by drunk, obstinate Obliterati around midnight,” says one attendee. “A woman who claimed be society columnist for WSJ showed up with 10 people and pretty much demanded entry. Mind you, it’s $30 at the door to get in for open bar. Women from Zaarly also showed up part of this cadre of drunken ‘VIPs’,” he scoffed. Video here, photos here. Read More